We'll close our introductory look at the .NET platform with a list of new features that are unique to ASP.NET and the chapter in which each will be discussed.
A new feature that, in combination with an editor such as Visual Studio .NET, provides the ASP.NET developer the same drag and drop development convenience enjoyed by Visual Basic developers for years. Web Forms improve the speed of development by encapsulating frequently used features into server controls, which are declared using a tag-based syntax similar to HTML and XML. We'll discuss Web Forms in Chapter 3 and Chapter 12.
Web services allow developers to expose the functionality of their applications via HTTP and XML so that any client who understands these protocols can call them. Web services can make the task of application integration easier, particularly in situations in which application-to-application integration is made difficult by firewalls and/or differing platforms. We'll discuss web services in Chapter 4.
Server controls are declared using an HTML-like syntax, making them easier to work with for page UI designers. They are executed on the server, returning HTML to the browser. Server controls may be manipulated on the server programmatically and provide power and flexibility for applications that must support a variety of browsers. We'll discuss using server controls in Chapter 5 and custom server control development in Chapter 6.
One group of server controls is designed to simplify the task of validating user input. It includes controls to validate required fields, to compare one field to another or to a specific value for validation, and to validate user input using regular expressions, which allow you to specify a format that user input must follow to be valid. Validation controls will be discussed in Chapter 5.
ASP.NET offers tighter integration with Windows-based authentication, as well as two new authentication modes: forms-based authentication (which allows users to enter authentication credentials in a standard HTML form, with the credentials validated against your choice of backend credential store) and Passport authentication (which makes use of Microsoft's Passport authentication service). We'll discuss these improvements and new techniques in Chapter 9.
In Version 1.1 of the .NET Framework, several features have been added that are of interest to ASP.NET developers. These include:
Request Validation, when enabled (the default), checks all forms of posted input (form fields, querystring, etc.) and raises an exception if any HTML or script code is found. This can help prevent cross-site scripting attacks in your applications. We'll discuss Request Validation further in Chapter 9.
Starting with ASP.NET 1.1, you can choose which version of the .NET Framework your application will run against. Assuming you have both Version 1.0 and Version 1.1 installed, you can configure individual applications to run against either version. We'll discuss how to do this in Chapter 8.
In Version 1.0, support for targeting mobile devices such as cell phones and PDAs was provided via a set of controls available as a separate download. In Version 1.1, these controls have been fully integrated into the .NET Framework, and a new application type has been added to Visual Studio .NET 2003 to support development of ASP.NET applications for mobile devices. We'll discuss mobile development in Chapter 5.
In Version 1.0, developers wishing to access data from Oracle and/or ODBC data sources had to download and install a separate data provider for these data sources. In Version 1.1, the ODBC and Oracle data providers have been integrated into the .NET Framework.